After 16 successful years of being the region’s largest festival, HIFA has gone to the next level by expanding the existing Harare International Festival of the Arts to a more meaningful and dynamic year-round festival programme.
HIFA was started by Zimbabwean classical pianist Manuel Bagorro in 1999 at a time when Zimbabwe was experiencing isolation from the international community.
HIFA established a working partnership between the business community and the artistic community in Zimbabwe. This led to a greater sense of vitality and potential within the arts community and a different attitude towards creative workers and the arts within the business community.
Manuel Bagorro, founder and director of the festival, says: “This type of engagement has also impacted the way that local businesses and service providers use the festival to promote themselves, raise their profiles, and engage with new constomers.
“Although circumstances in Zimbabwe have made external marketing of the festival as a cultural tourism destination a little challenging, we have seen a growing number of visitors who travel to HIFA and spend money on hotels, services and tickets.
“The festival employs over 1 000 Zimbabweans in various roles.”
The HIFA festival celebrates traditional Zimbabwean culture and also the heritage and dynamism of contemporary artistic disciplines including music, theatre, dance, visual arts and craft.
Creative workers and audiences are connected to a global community of creative thinkers through the wide range of artists, performers and groups from all over the world who are invited to the festival each year.
HIFA has established 5 new programmes to broaden reach and deepen the impact of the festival.
“HIFA Presents” is a multi-disciplined art platform for collaboration between embassies and the corporate sector to present concerts and world-class shows, while actively working on audience development, employment creation and bringing audiences and community groups together.
The first “HIFA Presents” event was held in February this year. With support from the United States embassy in Harare, the New York City-based band the Huntertones performed alongside Zimbabwean musicians Hope Masike, Tariro neGitare and Bulawayo-based jazz group The Outfit, at a venue called the Spook House in the Msasa locale of Harare.
The inaugural Harare Theatre Season took place in May and explored the use of comedy and satire as a means of self-expression in a multi-disciplined show that included Zimbabwean comedians led by Carl Joshua Ncube, dramatic acts The Impro Show and The Pianist, dancers Tumbuka, AfriKera, South African comedians Lindzy Msimang, Donovan Golliath and Yaaseen Barnes and music from Portuguese band HMB.
The other new programmes for HIFA include “HIFA Events”, which creates employment opportunities for young Zimbabweans through service provision for corporate, diplomatic and private events, “HIFA Amigos”, an audience development programme and “HIFA Play” which fuses art and sport.
The “HIFA Engage” programme is set up as a vehicle for change and nation-building. HIFA Engage develops arts at grassroots level with key players, building outreach and development projects.
There are 4 major education and community projects happening over the next 18 months. There is a Travelling Carnival; schools project, Voices of A Thousand; a public art programme exploring public transport in Harare called City Project and “HIFA Access” which are regular gatherings to strengthen the Zimbabwean cultural sector.
The exciting Voices of A Thousand programme got underway in April.
The next 6-day Festival in April/May 2017 will showcase the artistic outcomes of the various programmes running throughout the year.
Forthcoming event details: July 28-31 2016: HIFA Presents Ballet Bouquet by the Dance Trust of Zimbabwe in partnership with Cape Town City Ballet at Reps Theatre in Harare. August 2016: Thousand Voices travelling auditions get underway. @afribeat